Recovery Diary 2/09/19

I’m 13 hours ahead of everyone back home. Saturday is ending, while in Chicago the sun just came up. Time is a warped concept that leaves me feeling upside down and backwards, never quite knowing what to make of its strange and twisted factors. The half-moon is in three days. The tides are slowly receding with the moon’s magnetic pull. More and more of the sandy beach becomes exposed each evening as I walk, toes shifting, hands swatting mosquitoes, back to my bungalow. The moon is in outer-space. Outer-space holds all the stars that are above my head. There’s Leo and Capricorn and Cancer and even, my Scorpio shining high above my head. I’m so small and the world is so big and time is even bigger and I get lost in the complexities of all that is around me….

Then I walk inside. I open the door to the bungalow, turn on the fan, and grab my towel to shower. My mind switches from the wonder of the stars and moon to the worries of critique and judgement. I have teacher’s fright big time here on the island. I stay up for hours before I teach a yoga class worry and obsessing over everything I could do wrong. I mediate and do my best to calm my mind, but then somehow my dreams turn back towards the anxieties that await with the sunrise. Even my subconscious gives me little rest. I sent over photographs and a video to the boss of the dive shop I am working with, feeling inadequate with each file I uploaded, doubting my abilities, doubting my projects. If I didn’t receive jaw-dropping amazement as feedback, I wrote everything else off as a failure. Black and white. Anxious and self-deprecating. This was my dark-side.

Then I walk inside. I open the door to the bungalow, turn on the fan, and grab my towel to shower. I make jokes through the door with my partner and listening to the faint rustle of the waves in the distance. My thoughts are preoccupied but my soul is at ease. My body is content, browned and freckled by the intense Thailand sun. My knees and hips are scrapped from the playful waterfalls I have climbed, the rocks I have slipped on, and the current I fell down. The very tip of my nose is red from a tropical kiss too harsh. My feet as worn and blistered from my stubbornness to never drive a motorbike. My body is content. My body is home here. The stars stay in my soul, flickering deep within as I shave one calf and then the other. Scorpio’s nature pulses through my bones and the fading moon phases fascinate my spirit. My soul is at home here. This is my light-side.

I carry around two selves. My mental illness is a part of me and I believe it always will. I can’t turn back time and rewrite the past. I take the past, kiss it on the forehead, then put it in my back pocket and move forward with my life. My eating disorder used to be larger than my light-side. It used to be a monster that controlled everything I did. There was no room to hear what the soul or body had to say, the mind was constantly running the show. But, over the years I have learned how to starve the beast. Ignore its presence and begin to move on with my life. Therefore, as time passed the monster grew smaller and smaller until it was small enough for me to pluck it off the ground and shove into my back pocket. I have two selves, but one is much smaller than the other. The dark-side, this small self, sits in my back pocket. Every once in a while the monster with poke me in the butt, reminding me of my insecurities as an artist, yoga teacher, or simply as a human being. Every once in a while the dark-side will follow me into the shower and ransack my brain while my body and soul are deeply connected with the earth around.

This complex order of things, the two selves, the diminishing of the dark and its periodic resurrection, reminds me of time. It reminds me of my inability to understand the layers, the concept, the complex order of things. As human beings were are complicated creatures, we have so many depths to our nature. It is arrogant to believe I will ever figure it all out. So for tonight, I am content with recognizing that my mind is busy flirting with darkness while my body and soul are thriving in the light – such is the duality of life, the dialectic of the entire order of things.

Recovery Diary 01/11/19

Sometimes life takes you in its grips, twirls you around, and leaves you dazed and confused about what day, time, or month you are living in. I haven’t written consistently in two months or so, and I feel this intense loosening of my spirit. Disconnection has become a consistent friend. My legs feel as if they are walking on air, not quite grounded to the floor beneath my feet. It’s not dissociation. I tell my therapist this over and over. I know dissociation. It comes and goes like the rising and falling of the waves. I will not deny tasting its sweet numbness once or twice over the last months, but this disconnection is different. I am not disconnected from life. I am disconnected from the passage of time. Rather than checking out from my emotional experiences or denying myself the space to truly experience life, I am totally and completely in it. Each day is a day. Not a battle. Not a struggle, but a day. I haven’t fantasized about relapses, obsessively planned out my meals, or found ways to sabotage the good things in my life.

“I am simply fine,” I told my therapist.

“What do you mean by fine?” she asked.

“I finally feel like a normal person,” I answered.

Normalcy and stability are foreign concepts to me. I assumed a position of operating in a constant state of crisis. I lived off the rocky grounds in which mental illness forced me to walk. Running away from problems and numbing the positive experiences in my life became habitual. A reflex of sorts, my default or guide on how to deal with life. I lacked the capacity to hold any sort of emotion. It was too unpredictable. It threatened my semblance of control. Therefore, to have months where I float from one day to the next, unthreatened or phased by the experiences at hand, became strange. The reality is that within these last two months, I haven’t paused to question this new state of being. I was consumed in living. Between dating, dinners, parties, trips, work, art-making, and so much more, my time was filled. Who was I to stop to question the way things were unfolding?

The new year gives us the space for reflection. We are bombarded with new year’s resolutions, diet and weight loss goals as well as endless ways which people claim they are going to improve themselves. Since finding recovery, I have taken the approach of setting intentions for the new year rather than goals. As part of my healing process, I have learned to challenge these beliefs that I am not okay where I am right now, that I need to improve or better myself in certain ways. Intentions seem to offer a much more compassionate approach to the new year. For 2019, I have chosen the word JOY to meditate on. I have chosen JOY as a direct reaction to these last two months of life. As I find more and more freedom within my days to simply be, so too does my level of joyousness increase. I want to lean into this carefree spirit that I was naturally born with so that I may continue to invite JOY into my days.

Now, I don’t want to bullshit anyone. Not everything has been rainbows and sunshine. Every day has ups and downs. Let’s be real, there is no high without the occasional low. 2019 began with a cop pulling me over at 12:30am. Not even 30 minutes into the new year and I already was having to challenge my negative emotions and remind myself of my intention I had set not even an hour earlier.

“It’s a bad omen,” I said through tears the rest of the way home.

“It’s a personal challenge,” my boyfriend told me.

Life is funny that way, challenging you, giving you constant opportunities to strengthen your personal ability to succeed. Here we are now a week into the new year and my living environment has gone from neutral to hostile. One roommate has decided that screaming battles, passive aggressive actions such as slamming a loud vacuum against my door while I am sleeping, and mocking me on speaker phone are appropriate reactions to a simple confrontation about needing her to help out with the cleaning schedule. At this point, all I can do is laugh – hopefully with the universe – at how blatantly opposing these situations are to my intention of JOY.  How am I supposed to find JOY in the midst of fights and traffic tickets? The answer I have come up with is this – by being grateful that I am far enough into my recovery to handle these situations without my eating disorder. And right now, this answer is more than enough for me.

Recovery Diary 09/24/18

Sounds of a rushing stream trickle out of my phone, trying to trick my brain into thinking I’m not actually in my bedroom on the third floor of an apartment complex in downtown Chicago. My roommate isn’t vacuuming and my downstairs neighbors aren’t blasting shitty pop music. It’s the illusion of calm- the roaring fan blowing cold air, the phone singing of rushing water, the candles flickering offering up vanilla and toasted coconut. I trick my mind into believing I’m somewhere in the forest burning incense and sleeping under the stars while my mind tricks me into believing I am fat, unwanted, and all alone. It’s a trade-off, an unwritten contract, an agreement made some time ago that neither of us can seem to let go of. It’s a habit at this point, one that I am slowly trying to break.

It’s like trying to stop biting your nails. At first, you don’t even realize you’re doing it until your thumb is between your teeth and the top part of the nail is ripped off. Awareness is the first step. I tell this to the girls I work with all the time. We don’t want to hear that because it suggests that the process standing in front of us is far more intense than we expected. But, awareness is the first step. It was and always will be my fall back point. I find myself day-dreaming about losing weight, I light the candles. I start heading towards the scale at the gym, I listen to the stream in my headphones. I lie in bed reminiscing on depressed thoughts, I turn on the fan and allow myself to fall asleep and reset.

I trick my mind to keep my mind from tricking me. I used to believe it was a trade-off, a balanced relationship, one that would always leave me on the same level as my mental illnesses. I thought recovery was just about managing symptoms and thoughts and behaviors. Take my meds, eat my food, go to therapy, wash, rinse, and repeat.

I started to lose track of the days, but somewhere through the last couple of months I have risen above the tricks of my mind. I have found ways around them. Awareness became planning and planning became actions towards fighting back. The sounds of the stream, the candles, the fan, my art, my books, my snacks, the pool, the medication in my cabinet- these aren’t tricks anymore. These things are my safety net. They make me feel safe when my mind is a battleground. I have found weapons to quiet the cannons and gunshots. I know the secret now. Sometimes I just forget I have the tools.

Recovery Diary 09/16/18

When I was in Costa Rica in February, everyone gathered on the beach with drums and ribbons to dance, howl, and sing as the sun set. There was a loud roar from the entire crowd when the sun made its final descent along the horizon. When the party slowly faded and the sky turned from pink to purple, we all packed up and started filed like little ants back into our tents in the forest before it got too dark to see anything.

When I was in Thailand in June, we sat on the beach singing mantras and strumming guitars while lying on our backs in a circle. We sang louder and howled as the sky turned pink and the sun dipped away for the night. We stayed on the beach until twilight and the mosquitoes became unbearable. Then we went back to our bungalows, made curry, and danced with our host families young daughter.

Today, I was sitting on a deck in Key Largo watching the sun set over the ocean’s horizon line while listening to Tash Sultana and laughing with my best friends. We smiled and argued over whose picture captured the sky’s beauty the best- even though the pictures were nearly the same. Then we sat in rocking chairs and talked nonsense before coming inside to prepare for tomorrow’s day full of adventures.

Nighttime tends to be the most difficult for me. It is the time when urges are heightened and nightmares come to life behind my close eyelids. It is where I lie in the dark afraid of the hurt child inside me. It is when my stomach is bloated from a day’s food and I take another sleep aid to try and calm my racing mind- which has suddenly convinced me that I am nothing but cellulite. The dark brings the demons out in me. The shadows of the night and the demons from my past are best friends. The speak to one another underneath the black sky like old lovers- embracing and precious.

Some nights are full of tender moments. Moments that make my soul smile and my heart race. Like last night when my friend and I stayed at this man’s house in Coco beach. It was just a room that he rented out for $25 a person. He was older and single. He said he gets lonely and likes meeting interesting people. There was another guy staying in the back room. We all chatted, ate rice and beans, watched Avatar, and swam in the pool. The night was peaceful. It was free of the voices in my head. But I woke up the next day to my friend telling me I kept hitting and pushing her away in my sleep. I shrugged it off, but there was a sinking in my stomach. Even on nights where I believe the peace I always pray for has finally overtaken the demons, I am reminded of those memories in my head.

“Nightmares…I have nightmares sometimes,” I explain, “I’m sorry.” Suddenly I am embarrassed and hurry to finish Charles’s dishes.

I don’t want people to know I still struggle.

I am still hesitant about breaking the illusion of perfection in recovery.

Two nights ago I was in the forest, dancing to Ben Howard at midnight in this room called the Glass Castle. As the music continued, the harder I danced. There was passion pouring out of fingers, anger expelling from my feet. I felt powerful. I felt so damn powerful. Then the music stopped. I noticed the sweat covering my legs and stomach. I noticed the dark. I laid down. I closed my eyes and listened as the next song began. I sang along, humming mainly because I didn’t know the words. A peace rushed over me. A sensation of gratitude and longing. Longing for time to bend and swallow me into this memory. Everything just felt right because while completely encapsulated by the music and night, it all made sense.

Recovery, like everyone always says, is not linear. There are ups and downs, twists and turns. Sometimes you go left when the map wanted you to take a right, but you get rerouted and everything turns out in the end- if only you keep moving. But, recovery is so much more than that.

Recovery is simply life.

The sunsets, the nightmares at Charles’s, the dancing in the forest, these were all moments that reminded me what it means to be human. You have these divine realizations of the beauty of each passing day, the celebration with communities about the coming night and the promise of the next sunrise. You have dark moments like the nightmares that keep you grounded. They remind me where I come from. They remind me of my strength, of my resilience, of my continued hope. Then there is the dancing and the freedom of my movements. The sweat, the heavy breathing, the music, the ground beneath my body, and the intensely black forest sky above my head- these are the moments of understanding. These are the moments when this crazy recovery journey I have been on, for a second, appears in my mind as a cohesive narrative.

 

 

Recovery Diary 09/12/18

It’s 8pm but it feels like 2am because I spent all of last night tapping my foot against the wall and counting the shadowy lines through the window panes. I’m in Florida, somewhere in the woods, in a cabin by a underground cave that I’ll be scuba diving tomorrow. I love it. I love the taste of adventure fresh on the tip of my tongue and the promise of the water that the next sunrise is going to bring, but I also struggle, even on vacations, even on adventures.

I forgot all of my medication in Chicago. I realized it at 11pm last night and my heart sank. Of all things, of all the damn things I could have forgotten, it had to be the medicine. The one thing that isn’t easily accessible to me when I am driving around the southern forests looking for random caves to jump in to. I had to make frantic calls and find a CVS the next morning. I felt nauseous from the lack of medication last night and my heart was racing because I didn’t take the pill that keeps the arrhythmia at bay.

I have a chill personality, but a racing mind. I have so many ideas and thoughts and plans and dreams that jump behind my eyelids with each passing moment. The tree on my left inspired a short story playing out behind my right eyelid while the song in my ear plays a modern dance piece behind my other eye. Call it the syndrome of a creative. Call it the artist’s madness. Call it whatever you want, but there are moments where I lose it. Not externally, no externally I have never been calmer, but internally I am a bucket of boiling lava that is raging a war against my intestines and throat.

I started making a list of all the things I needed to accomplish when I got home. At what point did my racing thoughts turn from creative to anxiety? I couldn’t tell you. Perhaps somewhere between arguing with the pharmacist and incessantly calling my psychiatrist hoping that she would call back. But, there was a switch and suddenly the adventures of my friend and I in the forest, scuba diving, and camping in tree houses became an obsessive search of the vaccines I never got and what diseases I am now going to die from. I don’t know why, of all things to worry about, vaccines popped into my head. Maybe because I had been dealing with doctors to try and figure out my medication? Who knows why the mind does what it does? But either way, I googled Walgreen’s clinics next to me and tried to make an appointment. I mean, might as well go in tomorrow so that I don’t worry for my entire trip right? Plus if I wait another day before being vaccinated, I could be infected tomorrow and I’d never forgive myself.

The mind is a crazy machine. It needs to be carefully watched and attuned or else it may run rampant and convince you that you should spend your time in rural Florida searching for a Walgreen’s clinic instead of diving the underwater cave 100 yards from your cabin.

Flash forward to passing out around 8:45pm and waking up to the 90 degree heat of the morning. Flash forward to a night’s rest and the magic of sleep. Sleep has a remarkable ability to reset the mind and challenge my irrational thoughts, worries, and obsessions.  I decided the mix of sleep deprivation and forgetting my medication resulted in the panic. I’m sure anyone reading this would have been able to figure that one out. But when you’re trapped in that moment, everything feels so real, so heavy, so extreme.

Yesterday was a day heightened by anxiety. Today was a day enlightened by adventure.

Diving into that cave…breathtaking.

The thrill of swimming through those smalls crevices…heart-stopping.

The beauty of the pictures….unexplainable.

The moments…cherished.

Recovery Diary 09/09/18

There’s a certain euphoria that accompanies watching the water. The bend, curves, and movement of the droplets each have their own personality. To imagine all these little drops of water dancing together to make up such an amazing example of the order of everything, is mesmerizing. I have and always will be enchanted by the water. We have a love for one another that is unexplainable, but the relationship doesn’t exists among words because the connection does not make sense in this reality. It is a spiritual bond. I feel it in the smile on my face, the kiss of coolness of my skin, and the beauty of the dance of the waves.

The waves are huge tonight. The water is angry. It crashes and screams against the concrete barrier which I am sitting on. The wind howls and the sky is grey giving the water a greenish hue. The crashes echo into the air creating a melody so sweet and powerful, I can’t help laugh along. The water dots my cheeks and I giggle with each touch. Suddenly I am a small child experiencing everything for the first time. There is a magic in these moments and I am completely at peace.

My mood shifts as quickly as the water’s waves. Just minutes before as I was driving towards the water, I felt on the verge of tears. There was a deep rooted darkness spreading rapidly in my gut up towards my throat, leaving me silent and uncomfortable. Now here, everything feels like complete bliss. I am light and clear and the darkness has shrunk once more. My voice returns in the form of laughter and joy. I no longer feel connected to the dark figure that road here along with me.

These mood swings have been happening frequently over the last couple of weeks. I am riding them out, which is a new concept for me. Before I would jump headfirst into the darkness, believing its lies as I slowly drown into self-hatred.  But that cycle didn’t work, it never worked, it never will work so I am trying something different. It’s called waiting. And waiting and waiting and waiting with the hope that something will change. Of course, I do other things- coping skills as the professionals would say. Meditation, yoga, art, music, and lots and lots of reading. These skills are supposed to turn things around, lighten my moods, make me feel less dark and heavy. Maybe it does help, but the change is so slight that I don’t notice. I suppose I believe in the change because I keep doing these skills and waiting for things to turn around.

But nothing the professionals have taught me compares to gentle hug I receive from the water.  I find myself commonly singing around my apartment the soundtrack to Moana, “I’ve been staring at the water…” and so on. My roommates and boyfriend laugh at it, but they too know. They know that I am, in fact, just like Moana. I feel this connection with the ocean deeper than any connection on land. It gives me joy by simply being by its side. I am a child in love for the first time. It calls to me, sings to me, talks to me, and suddenly I am the hippy grandmother from Moana dancing on the beach while the manta rays encircle me.

My name means Lady of the Sea. Is it the ultimate irony? Have I unconsciously adopted the love for the ocean because I knew the meaning of my name from a young age? Or was this name meant to be, specifically chosen to me from some spiritual realm unknown, at the time, by my parents? We all can believe our own answers to these questions. I don’t dwell on them. I just love that even my name points me towards the water. What a gift, what a friend, what a complete punch in the face to the loneliness that my demons spill upon me.

I sit and watch. I close my eyes and allow the mist of the waves kiss my cheeks. I say a prayer. I meditate. I film the crashing of the water against the concrete. And then I leave. I leave knowing that I will be back, tomorrow and the next day and every day after that.

I leave knowing if I continue to nurture this love, no darkness will ever overcome me again.

 

Recovery Diary 09/05/18

Recovery is not linear.

Recovery is not linear.

Recovery is not linear.

Recovery…..is…..not…..

I have heard it a thousand times. In fact, I have heard it so much that the words have started to disintegrate the minute they fall out of professionals mouths. I’m not asking for linear. I just want relief. I want a surgeon to go into my brain and remove the parasite that has made its home between my sanity and freedom.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am in recovery. I am the farthest I have ever been in recovery. Months are passing and I am slowly becoming more and more of myself, but I have these nights. These god-forsaken nights where everything folds in on itself and I am left curled into a little ball of confusion and desperation. And then what happens when I feel small, conflicted, and stressed? I want to lose weight. I dream about it, fantasize about numbers, I pinch at my skin, I revel at the release that removing this layer of cellulite would give me. It’s my default. Same as a drug addict craving a hit. I crave emptiness, numbness. I am addicted to food. I know that. I am constantly reminded of this fact.

My day was perfect. The morning was great, peaceful. I went to a bookstore and spent way too much money on books that excited every cell in my body. Books are my high. They have always been there for me. The stories can bring me far, far away from my reality. I could read for weeks, never speaking to anyone, and be the happiest girl in the world. Of course, that would be unhealthy and weird by societal standards so instead I limit myself to hours at a time with incense and jazz music playing the background. My safe place. Therapists always tell you, you need a safe place.

Anyways, the morning was great. Had some avocado toast that was bomb. Listened to a Trevor Hall’s new album, and drank a latte that was poured by the gods. Then I walked into therapy and everything started to shift. The air in the office was thick. I felt suffocated, uneasy. I wanted to turn around and run away, but I always feel this way when I walk into therapy. It is in this tiny little office on the third floor, that I am confronted with all the issues I ignore throughout the week. I am asked how I am, what I need to talk about, and I shrug. It is the usual routine. I never know. I always feel fine like there’s nothing to be discussed. I am eating and apparently that translates as nothing is wrong in my life.

Therapy leaves me walking like a maniac down the sidewalk. I am checking my email, Instagram, texting people back. I can’t do one thing. I have to have my mind racing with many many thoughts in order to keep this panicked energy at bay. I am manic. I am manic. I am sure that I am manic right now. But I just had a session. It could be anxiety. It could be mania. I could be dying of some brain tumor that is pressing on the sanity part of my mind and turning me crazy. The possibilities are endless, but my doctor just increased my meds so I rule out mania. I have no other symptoms of a brain tumor, and I fall back on I am panicking. Suddenly I wish it was something more because I have no idea what to do with this moments of sheer anxiety. I turn on my car. The gas light is on. I can’t pay for gas. The prices are so high right now. But I Google gas stations and pick the one with the lowest price. I start driving. Traffic is awful, my hands are shaking, but I make it to the gas station only to realize it is the Costco one and the line is crazy long and I am not even sure that I can get gas here because I am not a member of the Costco tribe. So I go to the next gas station. There’s another line. I wait and wait and wait. It starts pouring. Traffic is getting worse. I need to get to work by 5. I will never make it by 5. I call my boss. She doesn’t answer. I call the house. My co-counselor picks up. I tell her to ask someone to help her make dinner. She says no one else is there. I swear. I tell her I am sorry. I’ll be there as soon as possible. I beat myself up about being an idiot for spending so much at the book store. I put the gas on my credit card. At least I’ll get rewards points for traveling. I get on the highway. Suddenly everyone has forgotten how to drive because of the rain. I try to sing to music. I am still panicking. Nothing is helping. I roll into work a half hour late. I frantically start preparing dinner and things seem okay for a moment. I start to get in a grove. I talk to the patients. They make me feel at home, they make me feel welcome, they make me feel like I have a purpose. Work is good. It keeps me busy. But then as the shift comes to a close I start to spiral. The panic I shoved down the moment I walked into work resurfaces and all I can think about is the eating disorder. I start dreaming about it, planning my relapse, how to get to the grocery store, how to lose weight, how to binge, how to get a scale, on and on and on. My mind is relentless. I can’t turn it off. I start pinching the dimples on my thighs and panicking about how large I have gotten. Everything feels bleak and hopeless. I drive home. I listen to Julien Baker’s “Turn Out the Lights” and everything changes…

Do you ever have those moments where there’s the perfect song at the perfect time? The song is a little bleak, but it spoke to me in that moment. Then I was reminded of tomorrow. That even these hard moments in recovery, even the worst days are only 24 hours. Ride the wave. Come on Morgan, ride the wave. Don’t do something you are going to regret in the morning. I drive straight home and immediately get into bed. I close my eyes and sigh. I made it. The demons didn’t catch me. I made it another day. I made it through another battle. And I fall asleep exhausted from the war I had been fighting for the years and years and years.

Recovery Diary 09/01/18

It’s Saturday morning and it’s storming. The clouds are spitting tears and the skies are screaming through flashes of anger and thunderous pain. It’s gray and dark, the music on my phone feels nostalgic as if I am being transported back three or four years to a time not unlike the storm. Where my eyelids spit tears of acid, my hair screamed through brittle ends and frizzy frayed strands. Some days I hardly recognize that stormy child. The girl of hollow dreams and empty eyes. The girl who slept through moments of joy, who experienced sunshine through a heart of exhaustion, and never once believed there was anything different.

There are times when that child, the child of ignorance and darkness becomes nothing but a distant shadow lurking in the doorways of my memories. There are times when I desperately want to erase her. I want to believe that she doesn’t exist, never existed, and will never reappear. There is still shame wrapped up in the places I have been, the things I have done, and the experiences that led to my downfall. I know I hurt people along the way as I was slowly slipping down this steep cliff life had carved for me. People I loved had to watch. They had to witness every skinned knee, every fall, every tear. People I loved had to endure worry, confusion, anger. For that, I will never forgive the eating disorder. Mental illness convinced me I was alone, untethered to anything or anyone. That because I operated on an island isolated from the rest of the world it was impossible for me to hurt anyone. That, no matter my actions no one else would be dragged into the agony. I was wrong. I know now that I was wrong.

This realization makes looking into my past incredibly difficult. The shame and heaviness in my chest is nearly unbearable. It is one thing for me to accept the damage done to my life and another to envision that pain of those around me. I try not to dwell on it much, but rather prove myself through my choices today. 8, going on 9 months, nearly 100% free of the disease. It might not seem like much. It might come as a shock to people that it is only recently that I came to fully surrender, but it is the truth. I read about addiction and suddenly I accept it. Relapse is part of the process. It was part of my process. In fact, it became a reoccurring part for many years.

I don’t know what switched, but something did. I finally reached the point of letting go. I became so beat down by the disease, so ashamed of the years of my struggle. I knew that I couldn’t live another moment hurting myself or the ones I loved. So, I made a choice. New Year’s Eve 2017, I told myself 2018 was going to be my year. No more starving, no more purging, no more binging on empty promises that only left me that much closer to the land of the dead. I made a choice and somehow that surrender was enough. I haven’t looked back. I haven’t wanted to look back. I can’t. I just can’t let those demons in anymore. They are too damaging. I have too much to lose at this stage of the game.

I don’t know why I suddenly felt able to share this part of the narrative. The messy part that made me feel like I had failed the recovery community once again. I believe it came down to these books I just finished, A Beautiful Boy and Tweak. It is a son and father’s journey through meth addiction. I related on a deeply personal level. The pain, the ups and downs, the desperate desire to stop, but being so out of control that recovery felt completely impossible. It was as if those pages were telling my story. Sentence after sentence stuck to my heart, reminding me of those times and how it felt to feel completely trapped within myself. I thank those authors, the brave father-son duo, for sharing their story because it brought me comfort during a time when comfort felt like the most important aspect missing in my recovery.

Recovery Diary 08/30/18

Dragonfly miracles

The fan buzzes to my left like a powerful and entrancing dragonfly. I used to be mesmerized by dragonflies and in some ways I still am. Three summers ago I went back to treatment. I had to stay in these supportive living apartments for people with eating disorders and mood problems. On my first night, I walked into my assigned apartment to find all the lights turned off, heavy metal blaring, and two shadowy figures on the couch. No one said hello. I put my bags down and left. I didn’t feel welcome there.

The apartment was downtown Chicago, right next to Millennium Park. So I took the elevator down the 27 or 37 floors- I can’t quite remember- and bee-lined it for the outdoor stadium. It was humid and hot. Mid-August in Chicago so it is to be expected. I sat in a long sleeved shirt and pants because god forbid someone see my fat thighs and thumpy arms. They tell me to gain weight. I tell them to screw off. But none of that mattered as I sat there. Alone. Scared. Lost. Unable to comprehend how I got to this place again. I leaned back to lie down in the lawn and there I saw them. Hundreds upon hundreds of dragonflies. Buzzing, flying, dancing, mesmerizing me.

No one believed me. they said I must have imagined it. why would there be a swarm of dragonflies randomly in Millennium park which no one else witnessed. I don’t care what they say. I don’t care what they think. Whether imagined or real, the dragonflies were there. they danced for me, performing a composition I needed in that moment. A moment of fear and loneliness, a moment of questioning, and there they were. All these weird bugs keeping me company and making me feel a little less alone.

Maybe it is sad to think that bugs were my only source of company. Or maybe it is sad for someone looking into my life, my story, because they don’t understand the experiences that lead up to that moment. Being alone and able to have a moment to sit and reflect on my emotions, to witness the dragonflies, it felt like a miracle to me. Everything since starting to fight for recovery felt like a miracle to me.

It is amazing how dark times can be and how light at the same time. It’s the yin and yang, the good and the bad, the angels and the demons. I have a lot of both I have decided. My demons are simply louder beings while the angels are respectful and pleasant.  They scream and scream and scream about my dirty little used up no good for nothing body. I have learned to sit and wait it out. To let them throw their fit. Scream and yell and make me feel like shit, that’s how they get pleasure.

It all comes back to the dragonflies. I see miracles every day. I look in the mirror and see a miracle. I let myself have the slice of cake and I witness a million miracle. I am blessed by hundreds of dancing dragonflies that no one else sees. I pet a shark underwater and feel as if I have just uncovered the truth about the entire order of the universe. I see angels in my bedroom as a child. I hear whispers of love when I am alone and scared. I run through forests and the trees sing to me. I look up at the sky and tears fall down my cheeks because I know. I know more than anyone else that up there something is orchestrating a shit town of miracles for us to encounter every day, but if you aren’t looking you’re going to miss them. you see, I’ve been through enough hell to notice when somethings not from the pits of fire and despair. All I have known is burning sensations and tears of Clorox. So when I feel a breeze of goodness or taste to words of kindness, I see these things, I feel these things, I understand these things on a different level. These touches of light, the new song on the radio, the text from a friend, the hug from a stranger, the parking spot in the front row- these are miracles. Some of us are just too blind to see.

Recovery Diary 08/21/18

(a late night poem about the beauty industry and all the lies it throws our way…)

you take three steps forward

before jumping headfirst into a pit of cement

that you read in an ad was supposed to be a shower of

lilies,

rainbows,

and unicorns

you drive to the ER

with a mosaic of red between your eyes

you take a picture

you post a comment on the ad

and become the perfect pinnacle of sacrifice

beauty is pain

no pain no gain

what are you gaining

the ER nurse doesn’t understand that

you were just showered in lilies,

rainbows,

and unicorns

you jumped into a pile of cement

the nurse is relentless

you show the nurse the picture

they get it now

everyone gets it

after all

only an idiot would jump into a pile of cement